Letter: What Would You Do?

My (elementary school) son’s chevra from the neighborhood are very important to him.

I don’t love the middos of all of the kids in the neighborhood chevra and I’m worried about him learning from their behaviors.

Additionally, one of the kids says some tactless, not nice stuff when he is in our house that make me cringe.

Things like “Why can’t you afford….” or makes fun of stuff he sees around the house or of some of my kids.

It doesn’t bother my son who tells me he’s just being a kid and that I shouldn’t say anything. But it bothers me. And the parents are not the type to be helpful if I say something.

What would you do?

A concerned and not-so-pleased mother.

TLS welcomes your letters by submitting them to [email protected]

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 20,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.


  1. What wud u like his parents to say or do? As long as it’s not extreme or nivul peh in its various forms , your son will grow from it . Your son obviously feels the friendship is worth it (unless it’s a unhealthy crush type relationship where on side puts up with abuses just not to lose the friendship) finally u can point out to your son after he leaves the correct attitude on his worst comments leave alone the others

  2. You are right to be upset. Unfortunately there are only two solutions. 1) move or 2) tell your son not to bring this kid around anymore. Both options are very difficult. Sorry

    • there will always be people in your circles (neighborhood, shul, job, etc.) who don’t align with your views 100%. As a parent you would need to learn how to allow for others to have their views and keep strong to their own values (without putting the others down) . If that isn’t done first, then you’ll keep on bumping into this issue all the time. Unless you move to an island with no residents.
      It’s about learning how to get along with people who aren’t carbon copies of you.

  3. Super frustrating to watch. The only thing I can see you being able to do is use it as a chinuch opportunity to try and strengthen your own child’s values. You can’t control the middos of all the people he’ll come in contact with.
    You can also tell the friend that ha can’t speak that way in your house but that might backfire.

  4. Your home is your domain where you are the Leader. It is entirely appropriate and even obligatory for you to rebuke any guest who says something you feel is wrong or offensive while in your domain. You can explain why it’s offensive or you can simply demand they don’t speak that way, it’s your choice. Don’t be afraid of the reaction just do the right thing.

    • I think you have point that it may be good to say something, but it should be done in a very parve way – that it is not obvious that you are giving mussar. Just as a friendly, ‘by the way’ type of conversation. You want your house to be open to others and cheery, and Rav Mattisyahu Salomon said from Chazon Ish that the obligation of chinuch is on the father only, not others. You have to be very careful before saying anything sharp to another child.
      Also, he’s just talking off the top of his head; he doesn’t mean anything. Adults do that sometimes also, with all due respect.

  5. I hear you, iv had similar situations. It’s very tough when kids are not taught middos in the home and parents don’t parent. it brings down the expectations and the middos of all kids around these… Id suggest better friends for my kid, even if it’s leaves them with a couple less friends

  6. You can’t control who your kids spend their time with as they grow up. And those parents that think they can are in for a rude surprise. And you can’t control other people’s kids. What you can control, albeit only to some degree, is how your kids will respond to these negative remarks.

    If they are taught that kids will say derogatory statements only if they are feeling bad about themselves, it will allow your kids to translate the remarks from what they appear to say to what they really mean, a lack of self esteem.

    This is a great teachable moment to impart this quirk of human psychology that will serve them well for the rest of their lives… it’s not like this kind of stuff ever goes away… it just gets more sophisticated.

  7. If he’s making these remarks when ur around, imagine what he says when you’re not around ! I agree with Rochel, either ask your son not to bring him around anymore and stay away from him or move. This is one of the downsides of living in a close knit complex . Unfortunately, this type of thing happens kseder, all over .

  8. Look at the positive. Your son is wise in understanding it’s just a kid who doesn’t know better. The real problem is with the adults, as children believe whatever people from our Frum circles are doing must be ok.
    This was a major issue we had to deal with by speaking many hours to Rabbanim & Mechanchim. Let me share an issue we had to confront.
    A few houses down the block lives a very (or so I thought) Choshuv Talmid Chochem who has been learning many years. One Sunday my son was playing with his son (it was beautiful weather) & later reported to me that the father was sitting on the back deck learning but he was wearing a blue short sleeve shirt! They have a high solid fence so it’s impossible to see from outside. My Ruv suggested I write a letter to try & fix it quietly.
    I wrote I have a hard time accepting what I was told about the blue shirt & wrote a short poem to reduce any tension.
    Roses are reddish
    Violets are bluish
    My son is asking if you’re even Jewish.
    Needless to say we’ve gone our separate ways with mutual feelings. Us upset about them lowering the level of the livush in our community & them claiming to be upset about our children going trick or treating on Halloween dressed as Chasidish Meshulachim.

  9. A very fir question. My wife is a NYC public school teacher. When students speak the way public school kids and teenagers speak, she tells them that she doesn’t appreciate that language, etc. Her students get used to her feelings and watch their language around her. If they use such language say in the hallway and spot her, they apologize. The fact that your child says his friend is a kid and doesn’t intend to be mean, is actually not good at all. He’s probably afraid of the kid more than anything else. The kid that throws rocks at dogs when young, tends to be nasty as an adult as well. As the adult in the house you can politely suggest that such talk isn’t acceptable in your house. Yes, my wife and use that tactic in our home as well.

  10. It’s unclear to me exactly what ur concern or fear is.
    I think it could be helpful
    If u clarified what is ur exact fear or concern.

    To me, The most important part of this story is your relationship with your son. That’s the part that I think is most important to focus on.

    It’s impressive that u were able to have the conversation uve had with him so far.
    Don’t take that for granted. He’s basically expressing that he knows the friend is saying hurtful insensitive comments but cares enough about the friendship that he’s asking u not to do anything to possibly damage it or embarrass him. These are very important messages.
    I would respect what he’s saying. At the same time if the boy says hurtful things I don’t think there’s anything wrong with modeling a healthy response. I would discuss this with ur son though in advance.

    My parenting teacher, Mrs Hauer, gave us a tool box of what we can do when we don’t like something we see happening ( obviously we all know we can’t control anyone or anything in this world other than ourselves- which even that we all often struggle with. So attempting to ban the child, threatening or even moving, won’t actually help. Ur child will still play with this boy outside or at his house, or won’t be honest with u anymore or Ull find another kid on another block u don’t like).

    Tool one- daven. It’s actually extremely effective- prob the most powerful tool we have and therefor sometimes the hardest tool to use effectively. Ask HAshem to help protect ur child from these negative influences and help u strengthen ur child and ur relationship with him.

    Tool two- focus on strengthening ur relationship with ur child. If ur relationship with ur child is stronger than ur child’s relationship with others, ur values will prevail. It will also keep ur lines of communication open so when this neighbor does get to ur child he will be open with u. Play games with ur child, take him out to get an ice coffee, drive him to school and bring a joke book to tell jokes in the car, take him out during lunch to try the new walking bridge. Find ways to bond with ur child so he knows u are his primary relationship.

    Tool three- modify the environment. Find positive ways the boys can interact. Create more opportunities for ur child to play in a positive way and close to ur house. I would actually rather the boys play closer to home so I can keep an eye on what’s going on and likely the boy with be more impacted by ur positive environment in ur home over time than the negative one it sounds like he’s coming from.

    Tool four- model. Model for ur son- standing up for yourself, being genuine, tolerance for others.

    The one thing I would talk to my son about is not being a shmata- if he likes the boy- they have fun together – or he’s intrigued by him ( usually a passing faze) that’s great- but he shouldn’t feel he has to “ take” hurtful talk. This is where modeling and the relationship come in. There’s nothing wrong with saying- that makes me feel uncomfortable.

    Don’t fear the child. Have confidence in urself, ur way of life and ur relationship with ur kids. Rely on HAshem! Don’t be like a cedar tree. Towering tall but shallow roots and inflexible. Winds blow and the cedar tree is swiftly uprooted or snaps. Teach ur kids flexibility, deep roots and connections. This is the kind of tree that weathers storms unscathed.

  11. If the child is not near teenage hood- I think u could say something like
    ur such a kind and caring child and I’m
    Sure u would never want to make anyone uncomfortable – share with us ur fun stories and come play with us- but talking about the items in our house makes us feel uncomfortable like maybe u don’t like our house. Please don’t comment on our stuff just come and have fun. We like ur company.

    If the child is near teenage hood – and if ur light enough to pull it off- u could insert a “hey, ur making me feel like our house isn’t good enough! “ ur tone is what matters. He’ll get the message. Or “ that’s my favorite couch ur making fun of “. Or that’s my couch- are u making fun of my couch? … there are many light ways u can give over the message that this is not a place to verbally trash. U have to believe I urself- and ur home- u are good enough-u don’t need more. U are good enough and ur house is good enough. His immature comments are just the wind blowing. Ur attitude can change the whole environment – and then reach out to the kid make him feel good- bring him into the family circle in a positive way. If he doesn’t feel like he has anything to prove in order to feel accepted and important he’ll stop putting down ur house. He’ll feel important and wanted and also treasure ur home.

  12. I’m surprised people are saying to move just because some little elementary kid said some things u dont like. You’ll be moving a lot if that’s the case! I’m obviously not talking about a bully. Maybe he’s just impulsive and outwardly just says what he thinks without able to control himself. Just politely say to the kid it’s not a nice thing to say and if he doesn’t understand why then you can maybe speak to the parents about it. Perhaps they are just as clueless. How bout inviting the family over for a meal you can get a better idea of the situation. Don’t say or do anything without knowing the facts.

  13. Definitely say something to the child, adults need to step up and make boundaries, stop asking permission all the time and just lead the way…you are the adult please act like it. If your child is uncomfortable you can be clear that inside your home certain types of behaviours are not acceptable. You can be polite but firm.

Comments are closed.